As 2020 draws to a close, it’s hard to imagine that just over a year ago Shaakira had ambitious dreams to take Aquatecture from the stage of graduation project to life size installation. Those dreams have just been realized! Proudly launching today is the very first pilot installation of Aquatecture in the world. It’s found a space in Shaakira’s birth country, the same place which fueled the inspiration for the project – the panels will be tested at home in Cape Town, South Africa.
This first test installation is made possible thanks to the support of a great team facilitated by the V&A Waterfront’s development director Mark Noble. Shaakira worked closely with façade engineer Adam Ozinsky who, together with colleagues from Arup, helped develop the panels further for installation on the car park structure where they are now installed at Granger Bay in Cape Town’s city centre. The panels were sponsored and manufactured by Geustyn and Horak. The water collection tank, sponsored by JoJo Tanks sits on a plinth casted by Baloo Plumbers, all above the ground so it makes it easy to collect the required data during the testing phase. A gutter, downpipe as well as the weather station have been sponsored by Longspan Gutters, AWR Smith Process Instrumentation and the V&A Waterfront.
As this great milestone for the project is achieved, it is laterally beautiful to encounter mother nature doing some celebrating of her own in the Mother City of Cape Town lately. The dams have reached 100% capacity for the first time in years. Nature had time to heal while we were forced to stay locked indoors for the most part of 2020, at the same time the warning she echoed this year was far from subtle. Taking care of our planet and its resources is no longer an option, it is necessary for our collective survival on earth. In Shaakira’s own words, the best lesson she has taken from the unsuspecting shockwaves followed by periods of melancholic seclusion, which was all that this year seemed to dish up, is this:
“When things don’t go well, like much of this year, it is a masked offering of time to reflect and rethink, sometimes forcing us to regenerate. When things do go well, then we should always strive to maintain care for human and more than human life and keep working at creating and sustaining more symbiotic relationships with nature.”
Even though Shaakira lives in the Netherlands now, she travels back home to South Africa as all her family still lives in the country. As she experienced the drought back home a few years ago, she constantly thought of what she would do in a situation like Day Zero and continuously tries to work at ways that would allow us to manage our water better in the urban environment.
Shaakira designed Aquatecture. A compact and aesthetic water harvesting panel which fits in denser urban spaces. It can be installed as a facade panel on buildings or as free standing elements in open spaces. Aquatecture collects falling rainwater through the openings of the panel, which transports to a collection tank. She is developing Aquatecture to have it integrate into the buildings grey water system so it is easier for people to re-use rain water or store it for dry periods.
The pilot installation will collect rainfall as well as development data for a set period of time. Shaakira will be co-ordinating the data research with a team of local students from Engineers without Borders at the University of Cape Town. The research team has been facilitated through kind assistance from Jo Anderson, knowledge and research management coordinator at the Green Building Council of South Africa.
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(Photography by Yazeed Hothey – South Africa)